"A Shared Responsibility"? Charles Karnopp and the Grenfell Mission's Misappropriation of Funds Scandal of 1912

Lay Summary 

In 1912, the success and longevity of the Grenfell Mission in northern Newfoundland and Labrador was not a foregone conclusion. That year, the manager of the King George V Seaman’s Institute, Charles Karnopp, was charged and convicted with misappropriation of Mission funds. His arrest, instigated by Wilfred Grenfell himself, was based on the results of an audit conducted by the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen which found that Karnopp had pocketed many of the subscriptions for the Seamen’s Institute without keeping any record. This research project examines the events surrounding Karnopp’s conviction and the early administrative history of the Grenfell Mission leading to its incorporation as the International Grenfell Association in 1914. At the time of Karnopp’s arrest, the Mission was at an administrative crossroads – while it operated as a traditional, small-scale charity, it also increasingly attracted the new mass philanthropy of the United States, which was a capitalist venture in social betterment based on the principles of the Efficiency Movement. The Karnopp incident and associated reports of mismanagement exemplified the deficiencies of Grenfell’s out-dated administrative model and triggered alarm bells within the American philanthropic community. Karnopp’s prosecution, and the Grenfell Mission’s transition into the formalized International Grenfell Association, appear to have been the result of Progressive Era American influences.

J.R. Smallwood Research Grant
St. John's
Newfoundland and Labrador
Arts, Culture & Heritage
Newfoundland Studies
Industry Sectors 
Heritage Institutions
Start date 
24 Oct 2014
End date 
27 Nov 2015